How should you be spending your website redesign budget? [Interview]
By John Becker
When companies see a drop in leads, they often start thinking about a website redesign. However, such an unfamiliar and potentially costly process can sometimes lead to frustration.
The more you know about this process — about cost, timeline, strategy, and execution — the better decision you can make.
IMPACT Account Executive Genna Lepore offers her insights on what all companies should know going into a website redesign.
Do you need a website redesign?
John: So how do you know if you need a website redesign?
Genna: It really comes down to what you're hoping to accomplish with a website redesign. Were there any compelling events that actually caused you to want a website redesign?
What I hear more than anything else is that a company’s conversions are down, from traffic to leads. That is a huge indication that a business may want to make tweaks to their website or perhaps undergo a complete website redesign.
Design and aesthetics are probably secondary. This often comes down to preference, because users are usually more forgiving from a design and aesthetic standpoint than they are about content.
If users don't find the information they need, they'll probably leave the site, which again, comes back to conversions.
I have a client right now who wants a website redesigned because they're going through a complete rebrand. Another client that has a merger and acquisition and they need to combine sites.
But it really comes down to conversions, one way or another.
And, while website design is subjective, conversion rate is not.
We view a website as a living, breathing thing. So let's say it was five years since your last website rebuild. Unless there were constant tweaks made to that website, conversion rates may have dropped so much because the website was left like a plant to die.
That's a huge reason why organizations come in and want to start from scratch.
It's really important for people to understand what a full website redesign entails. That's essentially knocking down the house and starting from scratch, versus a phased approach where there are elements of the website that they want to tweak.
This can mean a huge difference in budget. Knocking down the house is much more involved and costly than the phased approach.
The timeline you should expect
John: How long does the process typically take?
Genna: It depends, of course. If it's a full website redesign, it can be anywhere from three months to six months. At IMPACT, we have an additional strategy phase, which is actually one month before the design and development begins.
Depending on how complex a website is, it could be six months and beyond. And what I mean by complexity are things like adding a pricing calculator or anything customized that's specific to the business and their needs.
That said, if you take the phased approach and you want to make updates to the home page or pages that have a high conversion rate like a pricing page, you can do those in weeks.
It's just a matter of prioritizing which of those is important to you. And again, are we knocking the house down or are we making individual edits to the overall site?
What should businesses expect to spend?
John: When you get to the point of doing a website redesign, what should you expect to spend?
Genna: I like to think there's three ways you can approach a website redesign.
One is a DIY approach. I'm seeing a lot of clients go that way because CMSs are starting to be easier to manipulate.
HubSpot just rolled out a new CMS a couple of weeks ago and it offers drag and drop functionality. So I think a lot of organizations — not enterprise size, but small to medium size — are taking a website redesign in-house.
For about $1,000 you can buy a template on HubSpot marketplace and design a website on your own.
This approach would really be a full-time job for a couple of months, depending on how much content you have built out, depending on how technical you are. But because of the way CMSs are designed today, you don't necessarily need to be a developer to launch a new website.
That said, if you want customized elements, that's something that requires the help of a developer.
Secondly, if you've never redesigned a website and you don't understand site maps or the way someone enters a funnel and goes all the way to conversion, then you may need an overarching website strategy.
So, the DIY approach can be done by one or two folks dedicated to this project, but if you need something more custom, then it may make sense to work with an agency.
Second, there’s a hybrid model where you're doing some of the work and you're outsourcing some of it to an agency, depending on your abilities in-house.
The cost of the hybrid model depends on how you’re sharing the load with the agency, but it usually costs around $15-$25,000. That would include strategy, content coaching, etc.
Then there's the full blown, let's build a house from scratch, customized approach. For this, you're looking to spend anywhere from $35,000-$55,000 and up — and that is a huge range.
I do have clients that have spent $100,000 on a website redesign, but they had a ton of custom work.
Do business size and industry affect cost?
John: How much does what you spend vary based on business size and type?
Genna: It's less about the business and more about how customized you want your site to be and how much work you want to do in-house.
For instance, I've got clients coming to me right now that don't want to do anything. They don't want to upload their content, they don't want to add their imagery. They only want to participate in the strategy and they want the website fully completed and launched.
In their case, they're looking at about $35,000.
So, it's less about the business and more about how much work you are willing to put in and how hands-on you want to be.
How to spend your budget
John: How would you advise spending a budget?
Genna: That's a tough one to answer because I want to understand what the client's priorities are. Why are they doing a redesign?
It's important to allocate some of that budget to content creation. We're in a time right now where there's so much research that is done before someone ever converts on your site.
I like to ask my clients, what's one of the last big purchases you made, either as a business person or as a consumer?
I want them to reflect on how they made their purchasing decision. How much research did they do before they spoke to a salesperson?
I'll share with you an experience I had this morning. My back is killing me and I have been in the market for a new mattress for months.
I had bought a bed in the box and it was a horrible decision. It crushed my back. I knew the bed I wanted, but it took me a month to pull the trigger because, for some reason, the mattress companies did not answer my questions on their website.
I wanted to understand what the difference was between this series of beds. I wanted to understand the warranty. I had a ton of questions that weren't answered.
I ended up reaching out to someone. He got back to me instantly. He answered all my questions in an email and I thought to myself, I would have bought a month earlier had he just put these answers on the website.
I’m not kidding, I actually bought a mattress this morning. If somebody just put the information I needed on the website. I would have bought it a month ago!
I sat on it because I couldn't find the answers.
That's what I think about with the website redesign.
It's less about how sexy the website looks. It’s more about are your customers’ questions getting answered?
How budgets get misspent
John: What are common ways that people or companies misspend or overspend?
Genna: I've already mentioned that design and aesthetics are subjective. Where I see companies misspending is by allocating the majority of their budget to flashy websites with tons of animation and videos that don't really tell a story.
I'd rather see companies allocate budget to videos and written content that tell me what your product is going to do for me. Talk to me about the value. It all comes back to answering questions in a way that builds trust.
I had a client that had a $5,000 budget and she kind of teetered the line between custom and a hybrid model.
In the end, rather than spending a ton of money to have a custom site, she went with a more out-of-the-box solution but invested about $7,500 into help with her content. And overall, that paid dividends.
Pro tip: Do your homework
John: Fill in the blank. The website redesign process is always __________ than people think.
Genna: More complex! But it doesn't have to be. I think, if you do your due diligence as a buyer and understand what you can own in-house, understand how long it's going to take, and understand what your end goal is, then it doesn't have to be complex.
What happens is folks don't really know how much a website redesign costs and they try to go buy a website with a lower cost, and then get frustrated. I get a lot of clients saying, "I got this website, doesn't do what I want, can't make changes to it."
I'd rather have a client be super educated as to what they're getting and why they're doing what they're doing. That just makes for an easier and more satisfactory end product.
John: It seems that before companies get into this whole process they need to be doing some evaluation, some data crunching, and some soul searching as to what they're actually hoping to get out of it.
Finding an agency you can trust
John: When it comes to vetting potential design or development agencies, what should you look for?
Genna: The number one question I get asked is “what happens after my website launches?”
In other words, “what kind of support does your agency offer post-launch?”
This is a very important question and one that requires some self reflection before selecting an agency.
Do you want to own your website after the engagement completes?
Do you want to rely on an agency to make edits to your site ongoing or do you want complete ownership over your pages?
This is important to know going into the process because it impacts the agency you chose and can potentially reduce the overall cost.
It can also help the client learn how to build and manipulate a website before the website even launches.
Also, be sure to ask about an agency’s process for a website redesign.
What is their website strategy? How long does it take? Will it work with your timeline? How does content strategy fit into the process?
There are plenty of good agencies out there that will build you a beautiful site. But how are they guaranteeing that you’ll be able to accomplish your goals? It's important that you understand how their overall strategies align with your end goals.
Wondering where to begin?